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Special Weapons Course: 10 Questions to Grandmaster Wong

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  • #61
    Thank you for your illuminating answer, Sifu! I'm greatly looking forward to the Special Weapons Course.

    Best wishes,
    Markus Kahila
    Shaolin Nordic Finland


    • #62
      Dear Shaolin Family,

      Below please find a beautiful answer to question 5

      Thank you Sifu for these gems.



      Question 5

      Could you please share which one is your favorite weapon and why?

      Could you please share which weapon you consider the best and why?



      My favorable weapon is the Chinese sword, and my favorite weapon set is the Traveling Dragon Sword.

      There are three good reasons why I choose the sword as my favorite weapon.

      1. It is very very effective for combat as well as training useful qualities.
      2. It is convenient to be carried about.
      3. It is considered a scholar-warrior weapon.

      The Chinese sword is very effective against any weapon. Of course, it needs skills to use any weapon well. The Chinese sword is probably the weapon that demands the most skills -- more than any other weapons.

      Not only one needs more skills to use a sword well, the skills needed for swordsmanship is also of a higher level than those required for other weapons.

      Compare a sword with a sabre, for example. These two weapons are often compared, and many people have the mistaken concept that they can be used interchagebly.

      This is mistaken. Using a sword like a sabre, or using a sabre like a sword is a clear indication that the practitioner knows little about these two weapons. Their characteristics and functions are very different.

      A sword is light, whereas a sabre is relatively heavy.

      A sword is double edged, whereas a sabre is single edged. This means both edges of a sword can be used for combat, whereas only one edge of a sabre is used, although infrequently the other blank edge may be used to deflect an opponent’s weapon.

      The main functions of a sword is for piecing and slicing, whereas the main function of a sabre is for cutting, including cutting into an armor worn by an opponent, whereas a sword normally would not be used in this way.

      In the past it was convenient to carry a sword about. It was kept in a scabbard and hung at a side or at the back.

      In the past, some high-ranking ministers who might not know martial art carried a sword as a mark of prestige. The sword dance, which was very different from using a sword for combat, was often performed by pretty maidens for entertainment.

      Naturally, I would consider the sword as the best weapon. The reasons are similar to why I consider the sword as my favorite weapon. One’s favorite weapon, i.e. the weapon he likes most, may not necessarily be the best weapon for combat. But in my case, as in the case of most martial artists, my favorite weapon and the weapon I consider the best for combat are the same weapon – the Chinese sword.

      Many people have kindly commented on my unarmed combat efficiency. I am proud and happy that I remain undefeated all these years, although in my earlier years I purposely went out to look for sparring, not because I liked fighting but to confirm my combat efficiency.

      I honestly believe that if I used a sword, my chance ot beating other opponents using other weapons would be higher. The reason was not that my combat efficiency using a sword was better than my unarmed combat efficiency, but because most people did not know how to use a weapon skilfully.

      An exception will be those who use a samurai sword. They are very skilful. But the Chinese sword has certain advantages over the samurai sword. The samurai sword is usually held in two hands, which make it less adroit, and technically it is slower than a Chinese sword.

      Another weapon which I consider excellent for combat is the staff. It my surprise many martial artists that despite not having any sharp edge or point, the staff contains the important features of all other weapons! This is the reason why the staff is considered the mother of weapons.

      However, the king of weapons is not the staff but the spear. In terms of techniques, the spear thrust is considered the most difficult to defend against. But of course, one who is very skilful, can defeat another less skilful martial artist using a spear to thrust.

      The spear thrust is found in the staff, and also in the sword. Indeed, the staff evolved when a formidable general removed his spear head and trained only with the spear shaft when he became a monk at the Shalin Monastery.

      I am very fortunate to know three of the four staff sets most famous in kungfu circles. All these four staff sets frequently use the thrust. In fact, they are more like spears than staffs in their combat application, except without the spear head.

      Love is wonderful, because anyone with love in his heart wants to see everyone in bliss, everyone healthy and everyone availing freedom. This is the state of a man who considers the world as his family. Such are the wise man, the great souls. (Shri Shantananda Saraswati)


      • #63
        Dear Claude,

        Thank you for posting Sifu's most recent answer!

        I still remember - during a course in Toronto - Sifu's breath-taking, and marvellous demonstration of the sword against various weapons, including the Japanese 'katana'.

        Shaolin salute,

        Emiko Hsuen

        Taught by Grandmaster Wong Kiew Kit
        4th generation successor of the Southern Shaolin Monastery
        Small and Big Universe Course: Nov 21 to 25
        Becoming a Shaolin Wahnam Kungfu Practitioner: Nov 26 to Dec 2
        Cultivating Spirit Nourishing Energy: Dec 2 to Dec 8
        Intensive Chi Kung Course: Dec 9 to Dec 13
        To apply, send email to:


        • #64
          Than you :-)

          Dear Shaolin Wahnam Family,

          Thank Sifu for answering my question. What a beautiful and inspiring answer! I am always amazed by Sifu's wisdom and eager to learn more from him.

          I also love the Chinese Sword. I felt amazed by the profundity of this beautiful weapon when learning the Wudang Sword.

          I would also like to thank Sifu Claudien for starting this thread and to everyone formulating the questions.

          With Love, Care and Shaolin Salute,



          • #65
            Dear Shaolin Family,

            I am delighted to share with you Sifu's next answer to our questions. Answer no 6

            I am very looking forward for the course. Who is else is excited to be joining?

            Thank you dear Emiko Sije and dearest Santi for contributing to this thread.

            Thank You Sifu for all the Blessings you keep sharing with us.


            Question 6

            What are the benefits and advantages in daily life of training classical weapons?

            What does training weapons add to one's martial development, especially in contrast to other arts and sports that do not include weapons?

            Sifu Andy Cusick


            Weapon training is an important part of kungfu training. Besides maintaining kungfu tradition, there are also benefits and advantages in daily life.

            Weapon training, especially with a sword, makes practitioners agile. The improvement in agility is not only physical but also intellectual. Being agile physically and intellectually is certainly a benefit and advantage in daily life.

            Weapon training, especially using a heavy weapon, increases internal force or muscular strength, or both. An improvement in force or strength is benefit and advantage in daily life.

            Weapon training, especially in weapon combat and with any weapons, enhances a practitioner’s alertness and carefulness, much more than in unarmed combat. It is no fun to be hit by a weapon, even a blunt one. Being more alert and more careful is a benefit and advantage in daily life.

            Weapon training, especially when a practitioner learns to capture an opponent’s weapon, increases the practitioner’s confidence, more so than in unarmed combat. Increased confidence is a benefit and advantage in daily life, even when he never has to deal with any opponents with weapons.

            The Weapon training also adds to one’s martial development, especially in contrast to other arts and sports that do not include weapons.

            A martial artist may learn about tactics and strategies in unarmed combat, but when weapons are used, the outcome of the combat becomes more urgent, which deepens the understanding of the martial artist about martial art philosophy. Other arts and sports that do not include weapons do not have this benefit and advantage.

            Not only the philosophical knowledge but also the practical skills are enhanced when weapons are used in combat. If an opponent’s punch or kick is coming at you, and you fail to defend against the attack, you will be hit. If an opponent’s weapon is coming at you, and you fail to defend against the attack, your injury will be worse. Hence there is more urgency to defend yourself well, which will improve your skills in your martial art development.

            On the other hand, when you attack your sparring partners with a weapon, unless you belong to a group who do not care for the well-being of their sparring partners, you will be extra careful. This will not only increase your care but also your compassion in your martial art development.

            Certain skills and abilities are emphasized in weapon training, more than in unarmed combat. If you train a heavy weapon, for example, you learn to use the weight of your weapon to your advantage. If you use a light weapon, you learn to avoid the full force of your opponent’s weapon. Such skills and abilities are transferable to unarmed combat. Arts and sports that do not include weapon training do not have this facility for the martial art development of their practitioners.

            In the coming Special Weapon Course, course participants will experience these benefits and advantages in their martial art development as well as in their daily life.

            Love is wonderful, because anyone with love in his heart wants to see everyone in bliss, everyone healthy and everyone availing freedom. This is the state of a man who considers the world as his family. Such are the wise man, the great souls. (Shri Shantananda Saraswati)


            • #66
              Dear Shaolin Family,

              Following is another incredible answer from Sifu

              Thank You Sifu for sharing with us such precious gems.


              Question 7

              What are the animal spirit characteristic of each weapon?

              Which are therefore the recommended weapon sets for our unarmed specializations, like which weapon suits a Tiger-Crane, Dragon Strength, Taming Tiger, or Triple Stretch specialist?

              Sifu has learned a lot of weapon sets. Why did Sifu decide on the ones in our standard syllabus?

              Sifu Leonard Lackinger


              The well known spirits or characteristics of the animals are those of the Shaolin five animals, the monkey, the praying mantis and the eagle.

              The Shaolin five animals are the dragon, the snake, the tiger, the leopard and the crane. Their spirits or characteristics are respectively mind, energy, internal force, speed and elegance.

              The spirits or characteristics of the monkey, praying mantis and eagle are respectively trickiness, agility and powerful grip.

              Most kungfu weapons are not described in kungfu philosophy with a specific spirit or characteristic, except a few like the spear which is often described as a dragon, the sabre as a tiger, and the sword as a phoenix. The sword in our school, however, is more like a dragon.

              The great variety of kungfu weapons is often described as the 18 weapons. There are different versions of these 18 weapons, and the latest classification with their representative spirits or characteristics are given below.

              The assigning of a spirit or characteristic to a weapon, except the ones mentioned above, are my interpretation. Other masters may differ.

              1. Spear – dragon
              2. Crescent-moon spear -- dragon
              3. Staff -- dragon
              4. Battle-axe -- tiger
              5. Big trident -- tiger
              6. Halberd (Guan Dao) -- tiger
              7. Spade -- tiger
              8. Lance – leopard
              9. Sabre -- tiger
              10. Roped spear -- snake
              11. Sword -- phoenix
              12. Hand axe -- tiger
              13. Hook-sword -- phoenix
              14. Steel rod -- tiger
              15. Soft-whip -- dragon
              16. Clutch – leopard
              17. Round hammer – tiger
              18. Short dagger – monkey

              Listed below are the recommended weapon sets for those specialized in the respective unarmed sets:

              Tiger-Crane, -- Thirteen-Technique Spear
              Dragon Strength – Traveling Dragon Sword
              Taming Tiger – Taming-Tiger Big Trident
              Triple Stretch -- Crescent-Moon Guan Dao

              I have learned about 30 weapon sets, which is a lot by any standard. Most masters know only a few weapon sets, and usually the common ones like the staff, the sabre and the spear. I know some exotic weapon sets like the soft-whip, the round hammer, the snake-headed lance, the battle axe, the double steel rods, as well as famous weapon sets like the Green Dragon Crescent Moon Guan Dao, the Six-and-Half-Point Staff, and the Fifth Brother Octagon Staff.

              The weapon sets that I have not learned are the rope-spear, hand axe, hook-sword, clutch and three-sectional staff. However, due to my deep understanding of weapon philosophy and wide experience in using many weapons, I shall know how to use these not-yet learnt weapons though I did not learn their weapon sets.

              Interestingly, the three-sectional staff is not listed in any version of the 18 weapons. Some weapons in older versions of the 18 weapons of more distant past were bow and arrow, shield, claws and mace, which I also did not learn.

              The main reason why weapon sets are included in our standard syllabus is that one’s kungfu training is considered incomplete if he has not learnt any weapons.

              The two weapon sets for our Shaolin syllabus are the Flowing Water Staff and the Plum Flower Sabre. The staff is chosen because it is representative of Shaolin weaponry. The Flowing Water Staff is chosen amongst the many staff sets I know because it is simple but very effective for combat. The sabre is chosen because it is a popular weapon. The Plum Flower Sabre Set is chosen because it is a famous sabre set.

              The two weapon sets for our Taijiquan syllabus are the Wudang Sword and the Taiji Sabre. The sword is chosen because it is representative of Taijiquan weaponry. The Wudang Sword is chosen because Wudang Kungfu, from which Taijiquan evolved, is famous for its sword, and the chosen set is both beautiful and effective for combat. The Taiji Sabre Set is chosen because the sabre is a popular weapon and the set gives a good idea of what Taijiquan was originally like.

              The coming Special Weapon Course is a rare opportunity. It is suitable for kungfu practitioners of all styles. Those who miss it may not have a similar opportunity again.

              Love is wonderful, because anyone with love in his heart wants to see everyone in bliss, everyone healthy and everyone availing freedom. This is the state of a man who considers the world as his family. Such are the wise man, the great souls. (Shri Shantananda Saraswati)


              • #67
                Dear Sifu,

                Thank you for the wonderful answers to my and the other questions!

                And thank you to Claude Siheng for managing the thread!

                Best wishes,

                Sifu Leonard Lackinger

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                • #68
                  Dear Shaolin Family,

                  An incredible and awesome answer - Answer 8

                  Thank You Sifu.


                  Question 8

                  When choosing a weapon to practice with and dedicate to, is there some things to consider to attain the best results, for example the size of the practitioner and the weapon, the weight, the applications and the training?

                  Can one use the skills he learned at the Dragon Strength course with weapons? What would be the best choice of weaponry?

                  Is it possible to apply Dim Mark with a weapon? How could this benefit the practitioner?

                  Sifu Nessa Kahila


                  Yes, the factors you have mentioned are some of the factors to consider when choosing a weapon to practice with and dedicate to. Other important factors include personal liking, the teacher’s knowledge and ability, availability of resources, and benefits in daily living.

                  Firstly, a practitioner should choose a weapon that he likes. Then he has to find a competent teacher willing to teach him this weapon.

                  Suppose he is small-size and he has chosen a crescent-moon spear. Obviously if the weapon is too heavy, it is unsuitable for him.

                  Nevertheless, there may be different weights for the same weapon. The weight must not be too light that it defeats the purpose of the weapon, nor too heavy that he cannot practice.

                  The crescent-moon spear is a long weapon. He must ensure that he has sufficient space to learn and practice it.

                  He should also consider availability of resources. Does his teacher know much about the weapon besides being able to teach it? Are there other students practicing the same weapon whom he can share knowledge and experiences? Is he able to obtain more information about the weapon from books, videos and other sources?

                  It is also helpful to consider whether knowing the weapon gives him any practical benefits in his daily life – a factor many students may be unaware of.

                  The crescent-moon spear is a long weapon, so he may use the skill learnt from his weapon training to keep unwelcomed people at bay. If these unwelcomed people come too close, he may use the skill of training the spear-head as a dagger, which is one of the properties of this weapon, to deal with them at close quarters.

                  The lessons from the Dragon Strength course are very versatile. One can use the skills learnt at the course for everything, of course, including with any weapon. This means you can choose any weapon you like.

                  Suppose, for this example, you have chosen a sword. The energy flow learnt at the Dragon Strength course can make you very fast and agile, which are excellent qualities for using a sword.

                  Now you choose a long, heavy weapon, as a comparison. The development of internal force using any one of the numerous methods learnt from the Dragon Strength course, will enable you to handle the heavy weapon which you may be unable to do so without the internal force.

                  Yes, when one has the skill and knowledge, he can apply dim mark with a weapon. Normally it is not necessary to do so, because it does not need much force to cause serious damage with a weapon. In other words, even when an exponent does not have much internal force, a cut with a sabre or a thrust with a spear can injure an opponent seriously enough, unlike in unarmed combat where such hits without internal force may not cause much harm.

                  However, if for any reason, a skilful exponent wishes to apply dim mark with a weapon on an opponent, he can do so. Usually the weapon used does not have sharp edges nor is pointed, like a staff or a rod. However, if the weapon is sharp or pointed, the exponent has to use a blunt part, like the tip of the handle or the end of the shaft.

                  The benefit for the practitioner in apply dim mark with a weapon on an opponent is similar to in unarmed combat. The practitioner does not want to hurt the opponent permanent, but to disable him temporarily so that he cannot continue to fight. The opponent can then seek remedial treatment after the combat to revert back to normal life. It is a compassionate way of fighting.

                  Love is wonderful, because anyone with love in his heart wants to see everyone in bliss, everyone healthy and everyone availing freedom. This is the state of a man who considers the world as his family. Such are the wise man, the great souls. (Shri Shantananda Saraswati)


                  • #69
                    Dear Shaolin Family,

                    The Special Weapon's Course is approaching fast and we are closing in on the end of this question and answer series

                    What a beautiful answer no 9


                    Question 9

                    Can you please tell us more about the famous Lu Bu spear and its history?

                    Sifu Roland Mastel

                    Lu Bu was regarded as the invincible warrior of the Three Kingdom Period (220-285). . His weapon was the crescent-moon spear, Lu Bu was so skilful in using the crescent-moon spear that it is often called Lu Bu spear.

                    Lu Bu was at first the adopted son of a court minister called Ding Yuan. However, Lu Bu betrayed and killed Ding Yuan and became an adopted son of Dong Zhou, the warlord and Chancellor of the Eastern Han Dynasty,

                    A loyal minister, Wang Yun, with the help of Diao Chan, one of the four greatest beauties of China, laid a trap fro Lu Bu to kill Dong Zhuo. Hence, Lu Bu was taunted by his enemies as the bastard with three fathers, his own blood father, Ding Yuan and Dong Zhuo.

                    A famous story in Chinese history was called “Three Warriors Battled with Lu Bu”. Liu Bei, Guan Yu and Zhang Fei fought Lu Bu for 3 days and 3 nights to a draw. Guan Yu and Zhang Zee were terrific warriors, Guan Yu using a Big Knife named after him called the Guan Dao, and Zhang Fei using a snake-headed lance. Yet the three warriors combined could not beat Lu Bu, showing how formidable was Lu Bu with his crescent-moon spear.

                    However Lu Bu had brawn but little brain. Later he was captured by Cao Cao, a warlord who later became the King of Wei. Lu Bu was betrayed by his lieutenant, Zhang Liao, who was spanked by Lu Bu because Zhang Liao was drunk when given an assignment. Zhang Liao tied up Lu Bu and presented Lu Bu to Cao Cao.

                    Cao Cao wanted to keep Lu Bu as his general. But Liu Bei, who was with Cao Cao at the time, reminded Cao Cao of this “bastard of three fathers”. Cal Cao was worried he would be betrayed, and so had Lu Bu beheaded.

                    The spear has a long history and was used since ancient time by both generals and soldiers. Another invincible warrior of the Three-Kingdom Period, Zhao Yun, but he never met Lu Bu, used the spear. Many centuries later, the famous Song marshal, Yue Fei, who invented two opposing kungfu styles, Xingyiquan and Eagle Claw Kungfu, also sued the spear. Lu Bu was probably the first to add the crescent moon blade to the regular spear.

                    The crescent-moon spear has the properties of five weapons, namely a spear, a trident, a hook, a dagger and a staff. It is a formidable weapon, but it needs much skill to use it. We shall learn the crescent-moon spear at the coming Special Weapon Course.

                    The crescent-moon spear has one blade shaped like a crescent moon added to one side of the spear head. There is another weapon with two blades shaped like a crescent moon added to both sides of the spear head. It is called the square-heaven spear, probably because the two crescent moon blades on both sides of the spear head resemble a square, if you use some imagination.

                    However, this square-heaven spear is not a popular weapon. It is probably because the double crescent-moon blades make the weapon clumsy in combat, whereas a single crescent-moon blade serves combat functions better. Here is a good example of “less is more”.

                    Nonetheless, the square-heaven spearhead is usually used nowadays to hold big banners showing names of kungfu organisations. A pair of short square-heaven spears as a heavy short weapon was used by Dan Wei, another formidable general of the Three-Kingdom Period who was well known for his tremendous strength, and who often protected Cao Cao.

                    Love is wonderful, because anyone with love in his heart wants to see everyone in bliss, everyone healthy and everyone availing freedom. This is the state of a man who considers the world as his family. Such are the wise man, the great souls. (Shri Shantananda Saraswati)


                    • #70
                      Dear Shaolin Family,

                      Here we are at the end of this incredible question and answer series

                      Following is answer no 10, which means the Special Weapon's Course is only a couple of weeks away. I am now getting more and more excited about it

                      Thank You Sifu for kindly enlightening us with your answers.


                      Question 10

                      Sifu, can you tell us a bit about improvised weapons?

                      Sifu Charles Chalmers


                      One of the benefits of weapon training is that a practitioner can readily use an improvised weapon. Obviously one who has trained with weapons will be able to better use an implement as an improvised weapon.

                      One of the first weapon students learn is a staff. Students who have learned a staff will be able to pick up a long stick or a pole and improvise it as a staff. They will obviously be able to use the improvised weapon better than if they had not learnt a staff before. They will also be able to fight more effectively using an improvised weapon against one opponent or many opponents than if they do not use any improvised weapon.

                      A long pole can also be used as a spear, though this improvised weapon would lack the destructiveness of a real spear. Using a long pole like a halberd also lacks the destructiveness of a real weapon. A long pole should be used like a staff.

                      Some people say that those who have learnt a sabre can pick up a short stick and use it as an improvised sabre. This is not quite correct because a short stick is like a rod , and not a sabre. The properties of a sabre and a rod are different. A sabre is mainly used for cutting and slashing, whereas a rod is used for hitting. Nevertheless, using a short stick mistakenly like a sabre is better than not using an improvised weapon at all.

                      Even when students are trained to cut and slash with a sabre, hitting with a stick can also cause some damage. Students who have been trained to use a sabre, are likely to hit better with a stick than if they had not trained with weapons at all.

                      An umbrella is both a real weapon and an improvised weapon. Those who have trained to use an umbrella as a weapon will be able to exploit its destructive properties, like piercing with its pointed end, or hitting with its hard handle.

                      Even those who have not trained with an umbrella as a weapon, but have trained with other weapons, may use it, albeit wrongly, as an improvised weapon for hitting.. Although hitting with the body of an umbrella as many untrained people do, is not very destructive, as the cloth and the collapsible ribs of the umbrella act like a buffer,, it can scarce away would be assailants.

                      A bicycle chain may be used like a soft whop, though it is far less effective. It needs a skilful practitioner who has been trained with a soft-whip to be able to use a bicycle chain well, otherwise he may hit himself with the bicycle chain.

                      However, some street-fishers who may not be trained in kungfu weapons, often use a bicycle chain as an improvised weapon. They can use it reasonably well, though not as skilful as one trained in a soft whip, because these street-fighters have trained themselves using a bicycle chain.

                      A reverse situation is also useful. A practitioner trained in weapons will be able to fight efficiently with an opponent using an improvised weapon because the practitioner, even unarmed, knows the properties of weapons. For example, if you have been trained with a soft whip, when an opponent uses a bicycle chain on you, you will be able to counter him more effectively.

                      However, if you have been trained with a staff or a sabre, you may not be effective if an opponent uses a bicycle chain on you. This is because the properties of a staff or a sabre are different from those of a soft whip for which a bicycle chain is used as n improvised weapon.

                      But if you are trained in many weapons, then it may not matter much what improvised weapon your opponent may use. The Special Weapon Course provides such an opportunity within an incredible short time.

                      Because you are trained in many different weapons, when you are involved in combat and your opponent uses an improvised weapon but you are unarmed, you will still be effective in handling him.

                      Another invaluable benefit provided by the Special Weapon Course is confidence. Training in many weapons, especially in weapon combat where you need to be extra careful as injuries with weapons are more serious than those of unarmed combat, enhances your combat skills and gives you much confidence, not just in combat, but more significantly in daily life.

                      Love is wonderful, because anyone with love in his heart wants to see everyone in bliss, everyone healthy and everyone availing freedom. This is the state of a man who considers the world as his family. Such are the wise man, the great souls. (Shri Shantananda Saraswati)


                      • #71
                        Thank you, Sifu, for answering my question, and thank you, Claude, for facilitating this opportunity. I am very much looking forward to the upcoming course.


                        Charles David Chalmers
                        Brunei Darussalam